Buns. Biscuits. Brownies.

buns

biscuits

brownie

ooh friends.

Some of you were a little peeved that I live in a world where I can drink milkshakes and wear shortshorts in early April.  I live in Southern California… we don’t have real winter… or spring, or fall.  We have real summers.  Does that count?

Wait… I’m not making this apology any better.  Forget the part about the endless summer.  That’s dumb.  Nobody likes that.

Since some of you are still suffering with cold and wet and windy and snowy, I thought I’d share some comfort food with you.

Buns.  Biscuits.  and Brownies.

This is me caring about you.  And I’m not wearing shorts right now.  I swear.  I promise.  I’m totally wearing pants.  Warm pants and socks and a scarf.  Oh! Umbrella too, just in case something crazy goes down in my house.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

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I’m sorry.  I know it’s Monday morning and you probably came here for some pretty pictures of food that you could glance at, and then move on with your day… and here I go thrusting warm, soft cinnamon sugar bread in your face.

It’s not fair.  I know it’s not fair.  I know that now you’re craving cinnamon rolls, and cream cheese frosting and chili fries and hot dogs.  I am too… and I already ate half of this warm bread.

You don’t deserve this sort of torture.

This bread hits all the comfort spots in my soul.  It’s yeasty and soft.  It’s filled with cinnamon and sugar.  AND!  You pull it apart in sheets.  And you eat it… all.  Eat it all.  Make this.  Make it and eat it all.  Make it and eat it all all all all all… then the torture will be done.

I’m sorry and you’re welcome and I love you.

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Let’s start at the beginning.  We’re making a yeasted dough, rolling it out flat, covering it in butter, cinnamon and sugar, and slicing it into little squares.  The squares are then stacked into a loaf pan and baked.

I did this all without the use of a stand mixer and dough hook.  I stirred and kneaded by hand… it was way easy.

This dough can be made and left to rise , then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning.  The cold dough is a bit easier to roll out than room temperature dough… but I made this recipe without chilling the dough overnight, and I had success.

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This is the dough just before it’s left to rise.  It looks a little wet, right?  Yea… this is a bit of a sticky dough.  Try to resist loading the dough up with a ton of flour… it should be sticky.

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After the dough has rested and risen for an hour, I knead it in a few tablespoons of flour.  It’s soft, and no longer sticky… and just a little pillow of heaven.

This is the part in the bread process where you can wrap the dough and place it in the fridge to rest overnight.  Once you’re ready to work with it, let the dough sit on the counter for about 30 minutes before rolling out.

Cinnamon Bread Collage

I worked with my dough right away.  I rolled it 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long.  Then I slathered it with browned butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

I can’t even deal.

Cinnamon Bread Collage

I sliced the dough, vertically, into six long strips.  I stacked em.  I sliced em into six little stacks of dough squares.  I drooled a little.

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This is the dough stacked into a greased and floured 9×5-inch loaf pan… then I prayed for the patience to wait for this dough to rise again.

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After 30 minutes in the oven… oh man…. bread heaven.

I carefully took the bread out of the pan while still warm.  It sunk and oozed just a bit, but it was so delicious warm.  Incredible.  Warm pull-apart yeasty sugar dough.  I don’t know what other words you want me to say.

Cinnamon Sugar Pull-Apart Bread

Makes: one 9x5x3-inch loaf

Recipe adapted from HungryGirlPorVida

Print this Recipe!

For the Dough:

3  cups all-purpose flour

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 1/4 teaspoons (1 envelope) active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 ounces unsalted butter

1/3 cup whole milk

1/4 cup water

2 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the Filling:

1 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

2 ounces unsalted butter, melted until browned

**This is the original recipe I tested and use.  Some bakers have found that the dough doesn’t rise, because the yeast is not first activated in warm water.  As a fail-safe, feel free to activate your yeast first.  To activate yeast, whisk yeast into 3 tablespoons of warm water.  The water should be between 105 and 115 degrees F.  Add a pinch of granulated sugar and allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is foamy and frothy.  Your yeast is ready to go!  If the mixture does not foam and froth, toss the yeast and try again with another package of yeast.  Add the activated yeast when you combine the wet and dry ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl (I used just the bowl of my stand mixer) whisk together 2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and salt.  Set aside.

Whisk together eggs and set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt together milk and butter until butter has just melted.  Remove from the heat and add water and vanilla extract.  Let mixture stand for a minute or two, or until the mixture registers 115 to 125 degrees F.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula.  Add the eggs and stir the mixture until the eggs are incorporated into the batter.  The eggs will feel soupy and it’ll seem like the dough and the eggs are never going to come together.  Keep stirring.  Add the remaining 3/4 cup of flour and stir with the spatula for about 2 minutes.  The mixture will be sticky.  That’s just right.

Place the dough is a large,  greased bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Place in a warm space and allow to rest until doubled in size, about 1 hour.  *The dough can be risen until doubled in size, then refrigerated overnight for use in the morning.  If you’re using this method, just let the dough rest on the counter for 30 minutes before following the roll-out directions below.

While the dough rises, whisk together the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg for the filling.  Set aside.  Melt 2 ounces of butter until browned.  Set aside.  Grease and flour a 9x5x3-inch  loaf pan.  Set that aside too.

Deflate the risen dough and knead about 2 tablespoons of flour into the dough.  Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 5 minutes.  On a lightly floured work surface, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out.  The dough should be 12-inches tall and about 20-inches long.  If you can’t get the dough to 20-inches long… that’s okay.  Just roll it as large as the dough will go.  Use a pastry brush to spread melted butter across all of the dough.  Sprinkle with all of the sugar and cinnamon mixture.  It might seem like a lot of sugar.  Seriously?  Just go for it.

Slice the dough vertically, into six equal-sized strips.  Stack the strips on top of one another and slice the stack into six equal slices once again.  You’ll have six stacks of six squares.  Layer the dough squares in the loaf pan like a flip-book.  Place a kitchen towel over the loaf pan and allow in a warm place for 30 to 45 minutes or until almost doubled in size.

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Place loaf in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top is very golden brown.  The top may be lightly browned, but the center may still be raw.  A nice, dark, golden brown will ensure that the center is cooked as well.

Remove from the oven and allow to rest for 20 to 30 minutes.   Run a butter knife around the edges of the pan to loosen the bread and invert onto  a clean board.  Place a cake stand or cake plate on top of the  upside down loaf, and carefully invert so it’s right side up.  Serve warm with coffee or tea.

I think this bread is best served the day it’s made, but it can also we wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.

Apple Tarte Tatin

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Everything about this Apple Tarte Tatin is a good idea.

Everything except the scalding hot sugar, the super heavy 400 degree cast iron skillet… and the fact that you somehow have to flip that skillet and all of its contents out onto a serving platter.

Ok… maybe not eeeeeverything about this tart is a good idea  But!  The French have been doing this for an eternity and they know a thing or two about how to make butter and sugar delicious.

So, let’s just say that most things about this tart is a good idea.  I’m tellin’ ya… burning your mouth of super hot tarte tatin because you can’t wait to slice into the darn thing!?  Totally worth it.

Man I made this recipe tempting… didn’t it!?

 

Jill and I are at it again!  Do you see a video here?  I reallllly hope you do.

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Apples.  I used two sorts.  Granny Smith because they’re firm and tart (just like me… ew) and Fuji Apples because they hold up to baking and they taste like apple honey.

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Salted melted butter is combined with plain old sugar.

They’ll date for a while, get engaged, get in a giant freak-out fight, make up, buy a couch, get married… then turn into the most lovely, golden salted caramel you’ve ever seen.

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Did I mention that wedged and stacked apples are a part of the butter and sugar courtship?

Duh.

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Butter and sugar and apples.  The part of their relationship where they buy a couch.

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Puff pastry is the last addition to the apple and caramel marriage.  It the topper.  It’s time to shine is in the oven.

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What we have here is about 25 pounds of cast iron, baked apples, caramel and flaky crust.  It’s about a million degrees.  That’s super hot.

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Wait until the cast iron is about half a million degrees hot… then flip the apple tarte tatin onto the ugliest red plate you can find.

Actually… a pretty white plate would better.  Why didn’t anyone tell me that?

Awkward.

Apple Tarte Tatin

Print this Recipe!

1 sheet all-butter puff pastry, thawed but still cold

7 apples (I used Granny Smith and Fuji)

1 stick (4 ounces) salted butter

1 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 374 degrees F.  Place a cookie sheet in the oven too.

Peel, core and quarter the apples.  You might be tempted to cut the apple pieces smaller that quarters.  Don’t.  The apples will cook down considerable when cooked so you’ll want to keep the pieces nice and big. Set aside.  If the apples brown just a bit while they’re waiting to be baked… that’s totally fine.

Melt butter in a 10-inch, heavy bottom… heavy all over… cast iron skillet.  Remove butter from the heat and whisk in the sugar.  The mixture will be thick.  Just spread it evenly over the bottom of the cast iron.

Arrange the apple quarters in the pan by stacking the pieces in a circle along the outside of the pan and working you way in.  Pack the apples in tight as they will cook down when they’re cooked on the stovetop.  Save any extra apple quarters to add to the tart as it cooks on the stove and more room frees up.

Return the pan to the stovetop and cook over medium high heat for 10 minutes.  Be sure to keep the flame at medium high, letting the sugar boil and caramelize.  The high heat will help the sugar caramelize and the apples cook at the correct rate.  A lower heat will break down the apples before caramelizing the sugar.  I know it’s scary… but medium high is the way to go.

While apples are cooking, remove and unfold puff pastry.  On a lightly floured surface, gently roll out puff pastry, extending it about 1/2 to 1-inch on all sides.  This won’t require a lot of rolling at all.  Find a dinner plate about the size of the 10-inch cast iron skillet.  Place the dinner plate on top of the puff pastry to use as a measuring guide to cut out a circle.  Cut the pastry about 1/2-inch bigger than the plate.  The extra dough you’ll just tuck into the cast iron.  Place the puff pastry in the fridge until the apples are done cooking.

Check apples after 10 minutes.  The caramel should be close.  Add any extra apple quarters if you find you have room. Let apples and caramel cook for another 5 minutes.  Keeping an eye on the caramel color.  There is no need to stir or otherwise disturb the caramel or apples… just watch.

After 15-18 minutes on the stovetop, remove the pan from heat.  Careful… this will be hot and heavy.

Carefully place the puff pastry over the hot apples, tucking into the edges of the puff pastry.  Don’t worry if it’s not smooth and perfect… it’ll bake up just fine.  Place the cast iron on top of the hot cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 20-30 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 30 minutes.

Run a knife along the edges of the cast iron to make sure that none of the puff pastry edges are sticking to the pan.  Place a large plate on top of the cast iron and, using two giant pot holders, invert the plate and pan.  You should hear or feel a little drop as the tart falls onto the place.  Life the cast iron and you should have a gorgeous tarte tatin.

If any apple slices stuck to the cast iron, just remove them with a fork and place them right back in the tart.

Perfect!  This tart is best served warm but keeps for a day at room temperature.

 

 

Green Goddess Dressing

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I made you a bowl of greens.

Eat this while I eat some french fries and cake balls.

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A few weeks ago I made a SANDWICH inspired by Green Goddess Dressing.

What I didn’t tell you about that sandwich was that it was just an excuse to buy soft, white, sandwich bread so I could make myself late night cinnamon-sugar toast.

Uh-huh.

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But!  It turns out that the sandwich inspired me to make the real-deal dressing.

And the dressing inspired me to make this real-deal mess in my kitchen.

(This) Green Goddess Dressing is:

Creamy, tangy, thick, packed with spinach, fresh tarragon, fresh basil, scallions, parsley, mint and mustard.  Lemon too.  It’s thick and delicious.  It’s good for you.  It’s a really great alternative to ranch dressing.  It’s lower in fat and has spinach in it.  I don’t feel nearly as bad about chugging this dressing.

Chugging.

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I tossed this gorgeous dressing on home grown lettuce.  Fresh clipped lettuce.  Lettuce that came from the dirt behind my house.

I, however, did not grow this lettuce.  I have a black thumb.  Not a green thumb.  I have a thumb for making cookies, not for growing green things.

I exchange fresh lettuce for fresh biscuits and slices of cake.

David is a great neighbor and master gardener.  He also talks to my cat through the screen.  My cat talks back.  I like this.

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If you don’t like salad, maybe you’re the kind of person that likes COOKIES.  You probably are.  You look like a cookie person.

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No?  You want a FRUIT CRUMBLE!?  Fine then.  Geez.  Chill out.

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No?  You want a KITTEN?  Come and take him.  We’ll have to arm wrestle for him though… and I totally cheat. So.  Yea.  Let’s do it.

Green Goddess Dressing

makes: 1 1/2 cups dressing

inspired by Epicurious

Print this Recipe!

1 cup non-fat plain yogurt

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used low fat olive oil mayo)

1 cup loosely packed spinach leaves

small handful fresh tarragon leaves (about 3 tablespoons)

small handful fresh basil leaves

1/3 cup loosely packed flat leaf parsley

1/4 cup diced scallions

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves

1 small garlic clove

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice plus 1 teaspoon lemon zest

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor fit with a blade attachment.  There is no need to chop the spinach or herbs.  The food processor will do all the work for you.  Do be sure to slice the scallions.  Pulse all of the ingredients in the food processor until the begin to combine.  Pulse for 5 seconds at a time until all of the greens are minced and well incorporated into the dressing.  Taste.  Add salt and pepper as necessary.  Add a touch more olive oil or a bit of water to create a thinner consistency.

If you don’t have a food processor, this recipe will also work in a blender.  I chopped all of my herbs and greens before adding to the blender.  This helps ensure that all of the greens break down evenly.  Combine all ingredients and blend.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Add water and olive oil to thin the consistency, if desired.

If you don’t have a food processor or a blender, this recipe can be made by hand… with just a little elbow grease.  Finely chop spinach, herbs, scallions and garlic.  Really mince them fine.  Whisk herbs together with the rest of the ingredients.  Really give it a good stirring with the whisk.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve as a dip of as a salad dressing.

Dressing will last 3 to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

 

Candied Pecan Biscotti

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Today I was totally successful at inspiring frustration and anger in at least several people. At least several. Ooooh my goodness. Have you ever had one of these days?  It’s the kind of day when you think the world (or at least all of the people around you) have gone mad, only to realize that you are the common denominator… meaning that you, in fact, are the common jerk?  I’m completely talking about myself here. You are a kind and lovely person who never loses yourself to angrybears. I am not always as kind… and that’s why you inspire me.

Since I was in a crunchy attitude, I made the appropriate cookies.  These biscotti are crunchy and sweet… and I guarantee that, when served with a bitter cup of black coffee,  they inspire an attitude adjustment.  They help flip the switch.  Yes… I use food to adjust my feelings.  Welcome to my real life living.

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I’d like to now entice you to make candied pecans.  This can go one of two ways.  You may want to attack me with a happy bear hug… or you may want to kick me in the shin.  These nuts are so good, they usually inspire a dramatic response.

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Raw pecans are coated in a sweet and spicy egg white glaze.

It’s a drippy business.

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Candied pecans are crusty, sweet, and crunchy gems.

We’re going to bake up two cups of pecans, but only add about 1 1/2 cups into the biscotti dough.

You see what we did there?  That leaves us 1/2 cup for snacking!

This is a ‘know thyself’ situation…

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Biscotti dough is simple and spiced.

Cinnamon and nutmeg will do the trick.

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Biscotti dough is tenderly moist, but not overly wet.

Could this dough get any nuttier?  It’s a good thing you snacked so hard.

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Biscotti dough is shaped into a perfect and flawless rectangular log of dough.

… or you could just press it into a haphazard rectangle with finger marks all over it, and call it a ready.

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Here is where biscotti magic begins.

The slicing of the cooked and slightly cooled dough.

Here we have a choice.  Flip and double bake the biscotti for a crispy cookie (perfect in you’ve got a crunchy attitude), or single bake them and leave the cookies soft and tender.

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 Pecan studded and sweetly spiced.  These cookies are dry and hard to the tooth.  They do well with a good dip into black coffee.  The toasted pecan flavor makes them alluringly sweet with the candy coating.  Consider these crunchy (attitude adjusting) dipping cookies.

Candied Pecan Biscotti

makes about 2 dozen biscotti

Print this Recipe!

2 cups flour

3/4  teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup granulated sugar

6 Tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 egg

1 egg yolk

1 teaspoon vanilla

For Pecans:

1 large egg white

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

2 cups raw pecan halves

Start by making the pecans.  Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk egg white until the whites have foamed into small white bubbles. Add sugar, spices, and salt.  Whisk until thick and opaque. Add pecans and toss to coat. Once thoroughly coated, spoon pecans onto prepared baking sheet. Leave any extra coating in the bowl.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until nuts are fragrant and toasted golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely before chopping and incorporating into biscotti batter.

To make the Biscotti:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and arrange two baking racks in the upper portion of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fit with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the down and beat in the egg followed by the egg yolk.  Beat in the vanilla extract.

Add the dry ingredients to the creamed butter all at once. With the mixer or just with a spatula, bring all of the ingredients together until a somewhat stiff dough is formed. Fold in 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans.

Divide the dough in two on the two making sheets. Shape each half of dough into a 9-inch long and 1 1/2-inch wide log. Bake the two sheets on two different racks in the oven for 20 minutes.  Rotate the cookie sheets for even baking and bake for 20-25 more minutes until golden and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven but keep the oven on.  Let biscotti cool until able to handle.  Using a serrated knife, cut logs into 1/2-inch wide diagonal slices.  Place biscotti cut side down on baking sheet and sprinkle with more cinnamon sugar.  Bake again until pale golden, about 10-15 minutes.

Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

Green Israeli Couscous Salad

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You know those mornings when you:

wake up in a panic because you forgot to send an important email…

and wait!  you only slept five hours!  where did all of these zits come from!?  like… seriously.

and the coffee line is surprisingly short, but you spill coffee on your shoes because you’re an absolute bonehead.

and technology is confusing.

but cookies are totally not confusing so you eat like, thirty of them.

and it would be awesome if you could just stay home and hide from things… but the world keeps on spinning… and you keep spilling things… and emails keep coming… and seriously with the text messages!?

You know those days?

when work feels suffocating.  and it’s 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and you’re still trying to pull something out of your day.  well… something besides cookies.

I had that day yesterday.  I just couldn’t turn things right.  It was like slow motion falling, all day long.

It’s ok.  It really is.  Some days are just funktown.

whitney and willy

What turns around these days?

Buying your best friend cupcakes for her birthday.  Yes.  Buying!!!  I already told you it was a rough day!  Geez!  Sometimes bakers buy cupcakes.  That’s real life!

Buy cupcakes.  Light candles.  Pet a fluffy sweet dog named Willy.  Sing Happy Birthday to Miss (dirty 30) Whitney.

Doing nice things for other people totally helps me out of a funky day funk.  It feels good.  Making other people happy is the best distraction there is!  Truly.

Buy cupcakes if you have to.  Eat cookies if things get weird.  Do good things for other people.  Also… try couscous for lunch.  It’ll totally counteract all of the cookies you ate for breakfast, and the cupcakes you’re about to eat after pizzadinner.  Pizzadinner is totally a word.

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Israeli couscous is a toasted pasta shaped like little balls.  It’s different from traditional couscous, in that it’s much larger, really holds it’s shape, and doesn’t clump together.  Tiny pasta balls.  Like tapioca, but more pasta-y.

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I love to turn this couscous into a salad.

I had a theme this go-round.  I wanted everything to be green.

Snap peas.  Raw.  Sliced.  Crisp.  Pretty.

Maybe you want to try asparagus?  Go for it!!

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Green onions and green parsley.  I’m really into parsley.

Maybe you want to try basil and oregano?  Heck yes!

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Big chunks of cucumber too!

What?  You want to use roasted zucchini!?  Why didn’t I think of that?

And lemon.  Lemon should go into everything.

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I toss it all together with lemon juice and olive oil.  Salt and coarse pepper for days.

Feta cheese too… because come on!  Don’t be dumb.

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I thought toasted pistachios were a nice touch too.  They’re green.  I love a theme.

Feel free to play around with the ingredients.

This is just a simple little ditty for a ditty of a day.

 

Green Israeli Couscous Salad

four small or two large servings

Print this Recipe!

3 cups water

1 1/2 cups dry Israeli Couscous

generous pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups sliced snap peas

1 English cucumber, cut into chunks

1/3 cup chopped parsley

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup roasted and salted pistachios

salt and coarsely ground black pepper to taste

about 3 tablespoons olive oil

about 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a medium saucepan, bring three cups of water to a boil.  Add a generous pinch of salt, followed by Israeli couscous.  Stir and reduce heat to a simmer.  Simmer until couscous is just tender, with a slight bite, about 10 to 13 minutes.

Drain into a fine mesh strainer and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

Toss cooled couscous with the rest of the ingredients.  Taste and add more salt and pepper as necessary.

Yea… it’s that easy!  Cook couscous and toss it with veggies, herbs, cheese, lemon and olive oil.

Chocolate Peppermint Roll with chocolate ganache

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Own your life.  Own every last bit of it.

Don’t send your Christmas cards out until you’re good and ready.  Wear neon purple tights with a grey dress… why not ?  Go heavy on the gold eyeshadow…tis the season.  Green nail polish?  Go on.   Run through the rain… or sleep in and skip exercise class.

Fashion your cakes into a roll and slice generous portions for yourself, and skinnier portions for other people.  Pretend not to notice what you’re doing.

Whatever it is:  own it!

Maybe you’re one of those people who thinks that rolling a cake is bonkers crazy and waaaaay too hard for you to do.

I’m hear to change your heart and mind.  Ok?  Let’s do this!

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The secret to this roll cake is its spongy texture.

The spongy texture comes from eggs.  Egg yolks and egg whites are separated, beaten in a mixer until thick and stiff, then folded back together.

Want to know the other good news about this cake?

It’s GLUTEN FREE! I know… there’s no flour.  Plain and simple.

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There are some specific things you need to make this cake happen.

There’s 4 ounces of chocolate.  Treat yourself to some fancy chocolate.  It’s worth it for this recipe.

You’ll also need parchment paper.  Essential.  Don’t skip this step.

roll cake

Egg yolks and sugar are beaten until pale and thick then folded with melted chocolate.

Thick and pale yellow egg yolks mixed with glossy brown melted chocolate.  The batter will be thick and fluffy.  Amen.

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Egg whites are beaten to stiff, slightly glossy peaks.  Stiff like this!  Egg whites that stand their ground.

roll cake

The egg whites are folded into the chocolate egg yolk-y mixture.  Folded and folded.  Bit by bit into a fluffy chocolate batter.

Cake batter.  So sweet and innocent.  Just waiting to be baked.

The baked cake come out spongy and light.  It’s just begging to be spread with whipped cream and rolled into a festive shape.

Are you scared of cake cracks?  Sure… this will happen to the best of us.  Just remember… this cake was born to be rolled.

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Spread with a thin layer of peppermint, vanilla bean whipped cream.

Or just crazily spoon the whipped cream into you mouth.  Whatever works.

This is the part that might make you want to hold your breath.

Ok… it makes me want to hold my breath.  Maybe it’s just me.

Let’s roll.

Start rolling the short side of the cake.  A loose roll.  No biggie.

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Use the parchment paper to help you roll.  Use the parchment paper and peel it away.

See that giant crack through the center of the cake.

No biggie.  That’s going to be in the center of the cake.  Stay on your roll!

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Finish with the cake seam side down.

Nevermind that little crack.

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Give yourself, and the cake a little pat on the back.

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Then pour chocolate all over it… all the heck over it.

Crushed candy canes are a lovely last minute garnish.

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Look how pretty you can make life!

Do you see all those cracks in the cake?  Nope… you don’t see em at all.  They’re all folded and rolled up… and covered in whipped cream and chocolate.  Even when things go cracked… whipped cream heals most wounds.

This cake is such a lovely holiday treat.  It’s festive and way way impressive.  It’s so light.  It’s effortless to eat.  It reminds me of fluffy cake ice cream.  So so dang yummy!

Don’t like peppermint?  Feel free to flavor your whipped cream filling with only pure vanilla, with almond extract, or orange zest and extract.

Make it yours.  Own it (then share it)!

Chocolate Peppermint Roll

Makes 1 roll cake, serves about 8

adapted from Joy of Baking

Print this Recipe!

For the Cake:

4 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped fine

6 large eggs, separated

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

pinch of salt

3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Whipped Filling:

1 1/4 cup heavy cream, cold

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract or scrapings from 1 vanilla bean

1-2 teaspoons peppermint extract (start with one teaspoon and add more according to your taste).

For the Ganache:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate pieces

2/3 cups heavy cream

To make the Cake:

Place a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 17×12-inch baking sheet with butter or vegetable spray.  Line the baking sheet with parchment paper (not foil… definitely parchment), and grease and flour the paper too.  The parchment should overhand the sides of the pan just an inch or so.  Let the baking sheet aside.

It’s easiest to separate egg yolks from egg whites when they are cold.  After separating, allow them about 20 minutes to come to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat together egg yolks and 1/4 cup granulated sugar.  Beat the eggs until they are thick and pale in color.  This usually takes about 5 to 7 minutes at medium-high speed.  The egg yolk mixture will pour in a thick ribbon from the beater, that’s how your know they’ve been beaten enough.

While the eggs are beating, melt the chocolate pieces.  You can melt them in the microwave with low heat for a few seconds, stirring every once in a while as it melts.  I melt chocolate over a double boiler.  Place a few inches of water in a medium pan.  Bring to a simmer.  Place chocolate pieces in a heatproof bowl, and place the bowl over the boiling water.  Stir the chocolate until it is melted completely.  Turn off the heat and carefully remove the bowl from the simmering water.  Allow the chocolate to cool for just a few minutes.

Add the thickened egg yolk mixture to the chocolate mixture.  Gently stir together until just incorporated.  Stir in the vanilla.  The addition of the chocolate to the egg yolk mixture will thicken the egg yolks further, and make the chocolate appear fluffy in texture.  Perfect.  Set aside.

Clean the bowl and whisk attachment of your electric mixer well.  Dry them to insure that no remaining egg yolk is present.  Add the egg whites to the bowl.  Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until frothy, about 2 minutes.  Add the pinch of salt, and gradually add the cream of tartar.  Increase speed to medium-high until soft peaks form.  Gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar while beating.  Allow the mixture to beat until stiff peaks form.

Place the chocolate egg yolk mixture in a large bowl.  Place about 1/3 of the stiff egg whites in the bowl and gently fold.  Use a light hand to sweep the egg whites through the center of the chocolate mixture, up and under.  Fold until just incorporated, but large egg white and chocolate streaks remain.  Add another 1/3 of the egg whites and continue to fold.  The batter will be glossy and fluffy.  This fluff will create the desired sponge texture of the cake, so we want to deflate the egg whites as little as possible.  Fold in the remaining egg whites and gently fold together until just about entirely incorporated.

Immediately transfer the batter to the prepared baking sheet.  Carefully smooth into the pan creating an even thickness.  Don’t fuss with the batter too much.  The more fussing, the more the cake deflates.  If the cake batter doesn’t easily each end to end, then just try to make a even rectangle.  Don’t sweat it.

Bake cake for 15 to 17 minutes.  When done the cake will have a dry top and a spongey, bounce back feel.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

While the cake cools, prepare the whipped cream and ganache.

To make the Whipped Filling:

Place heavy cream in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the granulated sugar, vanilla and peppermint extract.  Beat to soft, whipped cream peaks.  The whipped cream should hold its shape but still be velvety and spreadable.  Allow to rest in the refrigerator.

To make the Ganache:

Place chocolate pieces in a medium bowl.  Heat cream in a small sauce pan to almost boiling.  The milk will be steaming hot.  Pour the hot cream over the chocolate pieces.  Allow to stand for one minute before whisking into a smooth and glossy chocolate sauce.  Allow to rest in the fridge until thickened slightly, about 30 minutes.

To Assemble the Cake:

Allow cake to cool completely.  Remove the cake, using the overhang of parchment paper, from the baking sheet.  Spread with a thin layer of whipped cream filling.  This doesn’t need to be a thick later.  When the cake is rolled, there will be ample filling.

Place the cake so that the 12-inch side is facing you.  We’re going to roll from the short side.

Use the parchment paper to help you.  Don’t worry about creating a tight roll.  This isn’t like rolling cinnamon rolls.  Gently roll the cake, removing the parchment paper as the cake is rolled.  The first roll or two will most likely crack and it’s being folded.  Don’t let this stop you.  This cracking is totally normal.  As the cake roll gets larger, the cake will crack less.

Gently lift cake and place on a clean serving board or plate.  Allow the cake to rest for about 30 minutes in the fridge.

Remove cake from the fridge and drizzle with chocolate ganache.  Allow to chill in the fridge until ready to serve.  Just before serving, garnish the cake with crushed candy canes.  Garnishing before will make the candy cane pieces ooze just a bit.

Cake will last, wrapped in the fridge, for up to 3 days.

Let It Be Sunday!

Let It Be Sunday!

I walked by this house in the Garden District earlier this week when the sun was just going down, people were home from work making dinner for their families… the sky was darkening and street lights were just starting to flicker to life.  This house was bathed in sunset light and streetlamp light.  I thought it looked like a painting.  Dreamy, spooky, mysterious, and vulnerable somehow.  

How has your week been?  Whirlwind madness? Tackling the to-do list like a boss?  Trying hard and mostly not crying about it?  Me too.  

I hope you’re celebrating the end of summer and the beginning of working way too hard until the holidays this weekend.  Let there be bourbon and relaxation (and waffles).  

Here is some of our week.  The internet greatly distilled: 

 This week we’ve been shocked and saddened but the seemingly sudden humanitarian crisis of Syrian refugees.  In fact, it’s not sudden at all. If you don’t understand what’s going on and how it all got so bad, here’s Why People Are Fleeing Syria.

•  The Mother Of All Disasters.  Reading like this has me refreshing my hurricane/earthquake kit (and biting my nails a bit).  

•  I’m going to watch this documentary this weekend:  The True Cost.  The very high price of materialism.  

•  This is good news:  100 Black Men Of Color Greeted Kids On Their First Day Of School

•  “I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment.”  – Joan Didion, University of Riverside 1975  •   25 Powerful Commencement Speeches By Women

•  There’s a phone app that will walk us home at night?  It tracks our location, whether we break into a sprint, fall, or veer off our path, and invites friends and family to watch us on our journey.  My only question is, what are we going to do with our rape whistles? 

•  An Oral History Of Me As Told Through My Exes.  She was hot.  She was fun.  

•  Overcoming Love Addiction: One Apple Martini At A Time.  There’s a happy ending

•  Sometimes driving through San Francisco takes my breath away:  The Steepest Streets in San Francisco

•  CEREAL MILK (and all sorts of other good things)!  Apple Jack Cereal Milk Ice Cream with Applejack (Brandy) Caramel Swirl

•  Dana from Minimalist Baker makes such lovely treats.  Now, please put these Vegan Whoopie Pies in my face.  Thanks!

•  Let’s spend some quality time daydreaming about Paris with this lovely book:  Bright Lights Paris by Angie Niles 

•  I won’t get on a plane without my giant Loomed Turkish Pestamel (I LOVE these colors!).  Well… I will get on a plane without one, but I don’t want to.  It’s my security blanket.  Fashionable security. 

•  I appreciate the way Melissa Lanz and The Fresh 20 approaches a cleanse.  It’s called: The Mind Body Reset and I’m trying it for the next 20 days.  Meal plans, inspiration, encouragement, and it’s not about drastic diet, just a reset… I’m into it! 

Have a happy Sunday!  I’m glad you’re here.

xo Joy